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Workflow initiation forms

Workflow initiation forms

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With the 2010 version, a lot of work has been done to tighten up the integration between SharePoint and InfoPath. One example of this is workflow initiation forms.

One of the things you can now do with SharePoint 2010 is create reusable SharePoint Designer workflows that aren’t attached to a specific document library or list. These can therefore be process-centric workflows rather than document-centric.

Most workflows require some information to operate. Some of that information will come from data sources or automatic calculations, but other information needs to be provided by people. In SharePoint Designer 2007 and 2010, there is an action for collecting data from a user. In SharePoint Designer 2010, there is another option.

When designing a workflow in SharePoint Designer, there is a button in the ribbon labelled Initiation Form Parameters.

Clicking on this button opens a dialogue to provide fields. You will be able to provide multiple fields of various formats, such as date, text, number and so on as well as choosing the order in which they will be displayed. When you publish the workflow, this creates a form associated with it.

Now, when the workflow is started, the user will be presented with a form and asked to enter values in these fields. These values can then be used by the workflow. Setting these fields is all well and good, but the form looks basic and the options around things such as default values are extremely limited. If you want to customise this initiation form, you can do so using InfoPath. When you examine the workflow settings in SharePoint Designer, there is a section labelled Forms. Under this heading will be any forms associated to the workflow, including the new initiation form.

When you click to open this form, it will open up in InfoPath Designer and you will be able to make any changes to this form as you would any other InfoPath form. You can very easily change the look and feel of the form, add data validation rules, even hook into external data sources to provide the workflow starting data from a range of different locations.

So SharePoint 2010 no-code workflows can be tied directly into data collection forms to provide them with the necessary information.

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